Safina No. 1 in tantrums

Dinara Safina threw her racquet at the end of her match, grabbed her bag and towel, and without a...

Dinara Safina threw her racquet at the end of her match, grabbed her bag and towel, and without a wave to the crowd, walked off centre court. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

First, underdog Aravane Rezai kicked her shorts on the court and then Dinara Safina beat herself up, all the way to the media room.

Disgusted at failing the first test of defending her Rogers Cup title, the world No. 1 slammed her racquet, drove her frustrated coach to bolt the Rexall Centre and then gave a half-hearted handshake to her giant-killing opponent.

"Disaster," summed up Safina after self-destructing in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 match, the earliest exit by a returning Rogers champion in a completed match since Steffi Graf in 1995. "I can't say panicking, I just didn't take control of my head. I lost my temper or whatever. I had to slow down and couldn't do the right things.

"I just went more and more crazy."

Rezai, who was born in France to Iranian parents, came into the match 39th in the WTA. The baseline specialist, who at 5-feet-5 is six inches shorter than Safina, had plenty of motivation to do well against the Russian.

"I take my revenge from the French Open ... she beat me at home," said Rezai, who was able to take just one game from Safina at Roland Garros earlier this year in their only other career meeting.

"It's the first time I've beat a No. 1. It's not (preparing) the day before, it's like I prepared for a week, for a year, for all my career to beat the best player in the world."

Rezai also did it front of her extended family, including Toronto cousin Saeed Baghbani, a karate competitor, who became the first Canadian to win gold in kumite at the Pan American Games in 2007.

Rezai holds two gold medals from the Women's Islamic Games in 2001 and 2005 and has just one WTA victory to her name.

Safina double-faulted 17 times, let a 40-love lead get away in the key sixth game of the third set with Rezai up 3-2 and played behind the 8-ball the rest of the way. She summoned her coach after the second set and midway through the third, but they weren't on the same page and TV cameras caught him leaving Centre Court.

"He says it makes no sense that (he's) sitting there because you don't do the (proper) things. You need to write a book about what's going on with my serve. It's so much, I know this, and I'm still so stupid."

But the result won't change the WTA rankings, where Safina's lead on Serena Williams is too large at present to be overcome -- even if Williams goes the distance here. But Williams had disputed Safina's top status earlier this week because of her own success in Grand Slam events, including a head-to-head win over Safina at the Australian Open final, while sister Venus beat her in a semi final at Wimbledon.

Safina, who had a first-round bye, follows the tourney's No. 3 seed, Venus Williams, to the sidelines after the latter's loss on Tuesday. Both have vowed to use the setbacks to better prepare for next month's U.S. Open.


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